Before putting up my big long list of cruelty-free mascaras on here, I put it up on MakeupAlley, out of loyalty to my fellow Green Boarders. The list is in three parts: group 1, group 2, and group 3. This was also a good idea as felllow-MUAers gave useful feedback—for which my further (and now public) thanks and a shout-out to bellakahlua, combatwombat, kai1, and kitkat73—about Australian brands and queries about how I’d listed certain brands that I’d last checked a while back.
Quick handy rule of thumb: if you’re looking for cruelty-free beautification, and you’re either not too sure about a brand or haven’t time to check them out fully:
(1) ask on MUA,
(2) look for an Australian brand (cosmetics being TTBOMK cruelty-free there by law),
(3) look for a European brand that’s squeaky-green (ex. Lavera) and/or not global (so: only producing MU for the EU market, by EU rules, so finished products aren’t tested on animals and no new ingredients—newly developed since 2004—have been tested on animals). YMMV on bigger EU brands distributed further afield: if in doubt, write in and check…
There was a moment of worry in the case of Laura Mercier. I was a little concerned as I remember there being a cruelty-free statement on their site, in the customer service area (> FAQ); it’s now gone in the current site redesign. So I emailed them again…
When emailing companies asking about their cruelty-free status, I used to ask this question:
Are you cruelty-free?
Which is, with hindsight and knowing about manufacuturing and global-market developments in the last 10-15 years, not entirely sensible. Might even be a stupid question. See, it could perfectly easily ellicit this answer:
and maybe even the elaboration
we believe in being cruelty-free
and that could very well be true, but doesn’t necessarily mean
we do not test out products or ingredients on animals, nor do we pay others to do so on behalf, at any stage in production up to and including selling them
See, it all hinges on are you (and how you interpret the verb “to be”).
So I’m now asking this instead:
Dear [brand X],
I’ve very much liked your mascara, but had a couple of issues I’d be keen to see resolved before I consider repurchasing.
I would be very grateful if you could answer the following questions:
1. Are your products cruelty-free? That is: no animal testing by you, or by third parties on your behalf, on finished products and on ingredients?
2. What is your animal-testing status for markets requiring it (e.g., China)?
3. Where are your products made, their raw materials sourced, and what are the animal testing requirements there?
Many thanks in anticipation,
Laura Mercier sent back an exemplary reply:
Laura Mercier is animal cruelty free. We do not test ingredients or products on animals, nor do we hire outside companies to do so for us. It is also stated on the back of our packaging that we do not test on animals. Also none of our products are manufactured in China, simply our packaging. Thank you for your interest in Laura Mercier and have a flawless day!
See what they did? A real human being actually read my email and answered my questions and did so in unequivocal terms. A fellow MUAer also emailed them and was similarly happy:
I am so pleased to see the bit of variation in the responses we received, while still conveying the same answer! I get so tired of the vagure & clearly automated ones.
Here at Laura Mercier we do not believe in testing our products or ingredients on animals. We have many women volunteers that try and test our new/existing products for us. We also do not hire outside/ 3RD party companies to do so either. Our products are not for sale in China. We also do not manufacture any products in China; simply the packaging. Thank you for your interest in Laura Mercier Cosmetics and have a flawless day!
They bothered to take the time and energy to read and reply properly. They’re also honest: to the point of firmness and a soupçon of feistiness, no shilly-shallying: it’s nice to see a company putting what they do and produce centre-stage, and standing up and fighting for them and their worth. It’s clear, straight-forward (lexis, syntax, semantics), and smacks of sincerity. This is a company that cares about their products, their reputation, and their customers. Considerate, virtuous, and intelligent: showing some awareness that customers, products, and brand reputation fit together neatly in a relationship . That relationship can be (in simplistic terms) a vicious circle or a virtuous one. Here, it’s virtuous. Each item feeds the other two, and the result is happiness, satisfaction, trust, and loyalty: much of that stemming from LM’s loyalty, as demonstrated above, to their own products.
Laura Mercier gets a gold star for customer service that actually does what it says on the tin (and with courtesy, charm, graciousness, and good grace). I hope their lovely people had flawless days too! LM people in general: in particular, I should repeat my thanks to Ms Josie Rivera (Online Artist / Customer Service).
Here’s an Italian company that has a solid past history on the non-testing front. Anecdotally, I can tell you I’ve used them years ago, found out about them while in Italy by word of mouth. But: they don’t blow their trumpet, nor do they posture around about what they believe and feel. Instead, the statement made on their site is a straight-up legal one, and honest about animal testing. Compare the two statements below:
Are PUPA products tested on animals?
Pupa has always been committed to complying with present and future choices of the legislator.
Therefore, our finished products are not tested on animals, as prescribed by cosmetic regulations since 2004.
We therefore voluntarily commit to follow the guidelines of the European community which recommend, for ethical reasons, to consequentially carry out in vitro tests and in vivo tests on human volunteers, under dermatologic control.
The in vitro test as a matter of fact can predict possible irritative damage, so that each human volunteer can then safely undergo the in vivo testing.
As far as the ingredients are concerned, we need to make a distinction: those that have been used for decades to prepare cosmetics, come along with a toxicological file that includes data relevant to animal experimentation carried out in the past, while for raw materials of new generation, from 2009 on, it is mandatory to substitute animal experimentation with alternative, scientifically verified methods.
Furthermore, from 2009 to 2013, it will also progressively become illegal to sell cosmetics containing ingredients that were tested on animals in countries outside the EU.
In conclusion, notwithstanding the important steps forward that have been made in these last years, the exclusive use of alternative testing methods needs further commitment and development of scientific knowledge in order to guarantee all aspects of product and ingredient safety for customer protection, which remains the main priority.
Pupa and Pupa products have always been compliant with present and future choices of the legislator.
Emphasis above: in the original.
I should add, to clarify: “we voluntarily commit to follow the guidelines” isn’t shilly-shallying: right now these are guidelines, they don’t have legally-binding forcible status.
In the next examples, I’ve highlighted problematic portions in orange italic bold, and fluff that’s meant to make people feel more comfortable and make them think the company concerned is nice and loves fluffy bunny-rabbits, but has zero legal and/or actual factual status, in an appropriate magenta italic bold.
DOES YOUR COMPANY TEST ON ANIMALS?
The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is committed to the elimination of animal testing. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety, and bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold. We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. We evaluate our finished products in clinical tests on volunteer panels. Estée Lauder fully supports the development and global acceptance of non-animal testing alternatives. To this end, the Company works extensively with the industry at large and the global scientific community to research and fund these alternatives.
Note also: feel-good vocabulary: uses of “equal,” “evaluate” (with implications of value and valuing people, animals, etc.), “volunteer” (added assonance makes associative connection back to “value”), “alternatives” used twice.
Do you perform testing on animals?
No. All Aveda products are people-tested.
The Aveda Corporation is committed to the elimination of animal testing. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety, and bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold.
We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. We evaluate our finished products in clinical tests on volunteer panels.
The Aveda Corporation fully supports the development and global acceptance of non-animal testing alternatives. To this end, Aveda works extensively with the industry at large and the global scientific community to research and fund these alternatives.
To learn more, click here.
“Here” led to this (popup):
the end of animal testing
“In order to be beauty, it must also be good. Beauty is the result, but also the process.”
—dominique conseil, aveda president
Our stance on animal welfare is one of our founding principles: we don’t conduct animal testing, and don’t ask others to do it for us, unless the law requires it. We’re continually developing new products, but our safety testing relies on human volunteers and scientific databases.
where we stand
Aveda is working toward the end of animal testing—without exception. In 1989, we were the first privately held company to sign the Ceres Principles for corporate responsibility, which call for safeguarding of the Earth and “its inhabitants.” One of our most prized accolades is our 2004 PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Proggy Award for Progress: “Best Cruelty-Free Personal Care Products.”
The Estée Lauder Companies (which acquired Aveda in 1997) shares our commitment; it was one of the first cosmetic companies to completely abandon animal testing on finished products in the late 1980s, and its passion to find alternatives to animal testing continues.
The sad reality is that most ingredients have been tested on animals at some point, and new international regulations both support and challenge efforts to protect them. But we see an opportunity: along with advocacy groups and the global scientific community, we can work to develop more animal-free, in vitro (i.e. test tube) alternatives, to replace unnecessary in vivo tests (on living things).
where animals stand with us
Our commitment to being animal-friendly goes well beyond the confines of the lab; we live and breathe it. Just a few examples:
- Our Blaine, Minnesota manufacturing plant is certified as a wildlife habit by the National Wildlife Federation, thanks to our restoration efforts.
- We supported animal relief, donating to the Animal Humane Society, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
- Over the past decade, our network has raised over $8 million for grassroots organizations that help protect endangered plants and animals.
- In 2006, we sent more than 275,000 petitions—from our network and guests—to the United Nations and White House to support the Endangered Species Act.
Note overuse of “we” and continuous-action verbs. See how the use of “groups” and “community”, added onto the volunteers, helps to bring you into the “we?” Plus continuation of the huggy touchy-feely stuff, and appeals to feminine good nature.
That’s rhetoric. Language used to manipulate, sway, persuade. To appeal to feelings and everything else that’s not pure cold hard reason…
Those images down the side:
That bunny is the PETA one. Given that Aveda’s been taken off their lists, it should not be there any more. Even if the pink ears have gone green in this image… otherwise that’s going to be further ballast to the claim against EL of fraud (currently in court).
Aveda was bought by EL in 1997. In 2004, Aveda won the 1st annual Proggy (“progress”) Award from PETA; they went on to win another, the 6th annual one, in 2009. I’m sure having the weight of the EL marketeering fleet behind them can’t have hurt. Especially as the whole idea, from the animal rights point of view, was to show that you could be a successful big business and be cruelty-free. If, however, the products were being sold in China at that time, there’s going to be further potential for legal problems.